U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia says he’s angry — and was clueless — that his chief of staff was involved in a cockamamie absentee-ballot scheme during last year’s Democratic Party primary in Congressional District 26, which stretches from the Florida Keys north to Kendall. His chief of staff, Jeffrey Garcia (no relation to the congressman) has resigned, and a Miami-Dade state attorney’s office investigation continues. Prosecutors should pursue the truth purposefully and with due diligence. No dilly-dallying. Voters whose choice in 2012 was between two political enemies — Mr. Garcia, the former head of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, and former U.S. Rep. David Rivera, a Republican who has his own troubles with campaign and tax laws — deserve to know exactly what went down in this race and to hold their elected representative accountable if it is found he played a role in this scheme.
A Miami Herald investigation in February by reporter Patricia Mazzei found the mystery computer hackers asking the elections office for absentee ballots were not solely from overseas computer addresses, as a grand jury had reported, but also from Internet Protocol addresses in Miami. That finding prompted prosecutors to get serious about pursuing this electoral fraud attempt.
State law considers it a third-degree felony for a ballot request to be filled out by someone other than a voter or his or her immediate family. But using voters’ personal information that is required in the ballot request forms can be considered a first-degree felony.
The stakes are high and may cover many more races than Mr. Garcia’s. In fact, of the 2,552 fraudulent online requests, about 500 involved the District 26 Democratic primary where Mr. Garcia was competing against three other candidates, including one, Justin Lamar Sternad who is involved in a separate federal corruption case involving former Rep. Rivera.
Full Article: Joe Garcia’s ballot scandal – Editorials – MiamiHerald.com.